Mother! Wow. Just, Wow.


I loved Black Swan. I hated The Wrestler. So, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when my husband convinced me to go see Darren Aronofsky’s latest, Mother!

I watched the movie a while ago. Thoroughly dissected it with my husband that very night and a dear friend a week later. And, it still remains with me.

The film sung to my literary soul from the very beginning. I loved, loved, loved being asked to turn on my brain and see the story through the lens of allegory, symbolism and metaphor. This is not a movie to take literally. If your trips to the movies must involve sheer and utter entertainment without thought…this may not be the movie for you.

However, if you are at all feeling riled up by the present social, political, cultural climate created by our neighbours to the south, and even many issues which we face in Canada (we, loathed to admit, are far from perfect), then this film will move every single one of your senses to feel complete outrage at the audacity with which we treat women, the earth, our homes, ourselves and our relationships with greater powers (i.e./ God).

This film is not for the faint of heart. But, I think that was the whole point anyway. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and hope the horrors of life will just disappear. We are forced to look at ourselves and what we have done, what we have created in order to figure out how to dismantle it and recreate it before it destroys us.

Jennifer Lawrence’s nameless character is poetic and Javier Bardem’s nameless character is so frustratingly positive. Each minor character elicits discomfort, disgust, rage and even pity. The acting was superb and the story was powerfully woven right to its dramatic conclusion. Not once were we let off the hook.

A great movie for a strange and important time.

Did you see Mother!? What did you think?

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Support Indie Documentary!

Below you can read a letter written by director Sean Cisterna.  Cisterna is currently filming a documentary about a paranormal investigator and he needs our help to bring his documentary to Hot Docs – the biggest documentary festival in the world.  Read the letter.  Check out the link.  If you’re interested, help him out!
Dear Friends and Family,
For the better part of this past year, I have been involved in producing the feature film documentary, 30 Ghosts, the story of rural horse farmer and struggling paranormal investigator Kim Hadfield.
It’s a film made with sweat, passion and our credit cards. We have an engaging subject, compelling situations and a crowd pleasing story. And it’s all shot on a tiny Canon 7D.
What is truly amazing is the fact that this little film is already attracting attention from the biggest documentary festival in the world: Hot Docs. They have seen some footage and felt they could lend our team a hand through their Doc Ignite campaign to allow us to complete the film.
If you can, get involved and contribute to our 30 Ghosts campaign to help bring Kim’s story off our home computers and onto the big screen in time for the Hot Docs submission deadline in December.
You can make a small contribution online via credit card and receive great incentives like t-shirts, autographs and even the chance to appear on our theatrical poster.
Kindest thanks,
Sean Cisterna

Old Homes, Gardens and Women


What is it about gardens and broken down homes that they are so readily included in women’s literature….chick-lit….chick-flicks?

When I read Alice Walker’s book of essays In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, I was struck by the number of books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen around this theme:  Wildflower Hill, The Forgotten GardenThe Physick Book of Deliverance Dane Under the Tuscan Sun (which I love) – to name a few.

Why is it that artists love to envision women bringing a barren piece of land to fruition?  So many stories involve bringing a garden or an old home to life, and in doing so, a woman finds herself, or is healed and becomes whole. The female protagonist will hammer and dig her way to a new life.

I wonder why we love to associate these ideas with womanhood and with a woman who is lost?

Maybe it’s the romantic notion that women nurture life.  Women give life.  We take care of something fragile, meet its needs and allow it to flourish. 

Maybe we’re so bad at taking care of ourselves, that the only way we can do it is when we trick our minds into believing that we’re taking care of something else and inadvertently, we end up taking care of ourselves (but, don’t tell us that – we’ll stop all the crazy refurbishing and planting immediately).

I wonder if our voices get so lost as we grow that we have to bang them out when we are adults?  Regardless, it does seem to be a beautiful process of rebuilding oneself.

Do you love the imagery of a woman restoring herself by restoring a garden or an old home?  What books have you read around this theme that you recommend?


Along Comes Merida Disney Pixar’s Brave


I simply could not wait to watch this movie.  Not because I love the creativity and classic tales told through animated films, but ever since we started watching movies with our son who is now 3, I realized just how “father-son” heavy most animated features are.  They are wonderful stories of learning and coming of age about boys, boys who would be men and men who must bond with their boys – whether those boys be boys, or fish, or little chickens, or cars, or rats, or ants, or even toys.  Which is wonderful for my son.  But, one day, if I am blessed, I hope to have a daughter, or a niece, or even as I think of the daughters of my dear friends and cousins…I wonder what kind of legacy is being left for them on the screen about what it means to be a girl?  And, what messages are there about the mother-daughter bond?


There is a plethora of maternal choices of the evil variety.  We have witches, wicked-step mothers, evil queens, awful step-sisters and a thieving hag who wishes to be young forever.  Our only alternative is the fairy god-mother who is make-believe, magical and cannot teach our heroines how to deal with life and reality.

The protagonist is abandoned until Prince Charming shows up to save her.  Even the more recent movie Tangled (which I thought was adorable) leaves much to be desired in the way of a modern-day character for girls – although Rapunzel is a better fit than her predecessors since she can at least put up a great fight, is feisty and not afraid to speak for herself.

So naturally I went into Brave with high expectations.  And, it totally delivered.


This movie is beautiful to look at with sweeping views of Pixar created Scotland.  The film opens with a tender moment between the Queen and a three year old Merida – a moment that any mother can identify with – the two are playing a giggle-filled game of hide ‘n seek where Merida manages to outsmart her mother every time.  Brilliant.

Merida grows up and is a Princess who refuses the traditional expectations of marriage and motherhood.  But, I don’t think that’s why she is a role model for girls.  It is her tenacity.  Her desire to learn more about herself and to embrace life.  She needs to be her own person first – and, that is a beautiful lesson to teach our daughters (and, our sons).

The loving and broken, caring and tense relationship Merida has with Elinor is one to which many girls can relate.  It is a relationship where both feel unheard.  Listening is a thread that runs through this movie; communication – in all of its forms – is essential in order for any relationship to succeed.  It is a lesson that both Princess Merida and Queen Elinor learn.


We learn much about Merida’s headstrong nature and her mother’s desire to see her comply with her royal duties.  The film takes all sorts of twists and turns – some are extremely unexpected – but, I loved that at the core of this movie, was the bond between a mother and her daughter.  Elinor tries to ready Merida for a life of duty and Merida challenges Elinor to remember who she was before she was Queen, before she was wife and mother.  Both witness the love one has for the other.  Both finally hear what the other has to say and both come to respect each other at a level that was unimaginable before their grand adventure.

Merida is strong – both in body and spirit.  Though she possesses the always-slim-Disney-Princess look – she is no waif. (And, after having recently seen Tangled, I believe Merida’s waistline is a tad “larger” than Rapunzel’s – improvement yes, but still quite unrealistic.)

Best of all is her mass of red curls that must have taken an army of animators to create throughout this film.  It had a life of it’s own.  Finally! Finally a princess whose hair is not perfectly straight or in perfect cascading waves.  A princess whose hair is as ferocious as she is.  Really, it’s worth seeing the movie just to see her hair.

She’s a horseback riding, bow and arrow toting Princess who takes on the most influential woman in the country and in her life – the Queen, her mother.  This is a touching story of the lengths to which mothers will go to show their girls how much they are loved and that life does not bring easy choices; and, the lengths to which girls will go to show their mothers that they can create new choices for themselves – with just the right amount of guidance and love from their mothers. No fairy-godmother or Prince Charming required.  These are two women who can save themselves.

I look forward to adding Brave to my son’s collection of Disney-Pixar films, just like little girls can learn from the adventures that boys undertake, so too can boys learn that a girls’ adventure can be just as inspiring.

Did you see Brave? What did you think of it?

And the winner is…

Moon Point is a quirky movie about love, the lengths we go to for love and the lessons we learn along the way.  It was produced and directed by Sean Cisterna. He also directed The Danger Bees music video for Awkward Guy.

Both of these films picked up some serious hardware the other night at the York Region Multimedia Film Festival winning Best Drama, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Cinematography and First Place in the Feature Film trailer competition.

If you haven’t seen the newly “award winning” video by The Danger Bees yet, it’s here:

Recently, The Mind Reels, posted a review of Moon Point; you may wish to read it in it’s entirety to gain a better understanding of the movie.  A good summary of the movie was provided:

“Darryl Strozka (played by new-comer Nick McKinlay) is a twenty-something stuck in a point of his life that we all drift through a some point. He’s directionless, jobless and loveless, and he’s emotionally stuck at the age of 10. A point that none of his family are willing to let go, and seem to bring up ad nauseam, especially when they compare him to his cousin Lars.  We meet Darryl and Lars at an engagement party for Lars…When pressured and belittled about who he’s bringing to the wedding, Darryl reveals that he’s going to bring minor celebrity Sarah Cherry (Kristen Gutoskie)  as his date.  You see, they have a history, brilliantly illustrated through flashback, and some of the most enjoyable parts of the film… Sure it was when they were 10, but if he still hasn’t gotten over it, then maybe she hasn’t either.  Sarah is shooting a low-budget horror movie a couple of towns over in Moon Point, but without a job to pay for transport, and without a license to drive, how will he get there?  Darryl enlists the help of his handicapped friend, nicknamed Femur…and using his motorized wheel-chair towing a wagon, they set out on a trip that will redefine both of them.” (courtesy of The Mind Reels)

It’s always nice when talent is recognized.  Congratulations Sean and all others who shared in your accomplishment.

Is there someone in your life who has done something creative and outstanding?